Users, Web developers vent over IE7

Microsoft blog about the browser's success draws scores of complaints

Users of Internet Explorer 7 (IE7) turned a blog post by a Microsoft program manager into a complaint free-for-all that took the company to task for not following through on browser upgrade promises and alienating Web developers.

In the posting to the IE team's blog, Tony Chor, a group program manager, used the passing of IE7's first year to tick off several milestones for the browser, including a claim that its user base recently reached 300 million. "This makes IE7 the second most popular browser after IE6," Chor said in the post. "IE 7 is already #1 in the U.S. and U.K., and we expect IE7 to surpass IE6 worldwide shortly."

Chor also said that IE7's integrated anti-phishing filter stops an estimated 900,000 phish attempts each week, and that the support call volume for Microsoft's browser line is down 20% from a year ago. "This is typically a sign that the product is more stable and has fewer issues than the previous release," Chor said.

But while Chor was loquacious about IE7, he gave short shrift to news about the next edition. "While we're happy with how well IE7 is doing, as always, we continue to listen to our customers and find ways to further improve Internet Explorer. Look for more news on this front in the coming weeks."

That drove some users to question Microsoft's commitment to a statement made by Bill Gates last year that the company would upgrade Internet Explorer more frequently. In March 2006, Gates acknowledged that the six years between the release of IE6 and IE7 was too long an interval, then said Microsoft would crank out a new edition of Internet Explorer every nine to 12 months.

"Congratulations. In the same timeframe [since IE 7's debut], Firefox went 2.0, and launched 3.0 Beta, Safari has gone to 3.0, including a version for Windows," said someone identified as Paul. " Let's see...six years for IE7, so you guys are on track to have IE8 by what, 2012? Your problem is you think in terms of years."

Others took exception to Chor's statistics on IE7's uptake and the number of security issues found in it during the last year. But it was developers who seemed to bash Microsoft the hardest. "Instead of wasting our time with crazy back-patting uselessness, will Microsoft please just admit defeat and close up development of IE and hand [it] over to people who care about the Web and handle it properly?" said Ryan G. "I have wasted sooo [sic] many hours developing sites to work in this browser, that work without further modification in every other browser."

"Another post on this blog, and not a single word about being open with the community, IE8, bug fixes, new features, transparency, public bug tracking, etc. *except* by every developer/manager/tester/designer/user/security expert commenting on this blog," said a user identified as Bradley. "What's the issue here? If [Microsoft] is not going to commit any time, resources, material to any of this, ISSUE A POST indicating such (preferably with a reason)!"

But the most pointed comment came from someone labeled only as dk. "You all continue to underestimate the dramatic spillover effect this poor developer experience has had and will continue to have on your other products and services. Let me drive this point home. I am a front-end programmer and a co-founder of a start-up. I can tell you categorically that my team: Won't download and play with Silverlight...won't build a Live widget...won't consider any Microsoft search or ad products in the future.

"And the reason is because of IE -- because Microsoft disregards its most important relationship with us. Until this relationship is repaired, nothing else stands a chance."

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